Formal surveys

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Formal Survey

What are they?
Formal surveys can be used to collect standardized information from a carefully selected sample of people or households. Surveys often collect comparable information for a relatively large number of people in particular target groups.
What can we use them for?

  • Providing baseline data against which the performance of the strategy, program, or

project can be compared.

  • Comparing different groups at a given point in time.
  • Comparing changes over time in the same group.
  • Comparing actual conditions with the targets established in a program or project design.
  • Describing conditions in a particular community or group.
  • Providing a key input to a formal evaluation of the impact of a program or project.
  • Assessing levels of poverty as basis for preparation of poverty reduction strategies.


  • Findings from the sample of people interviewed can be applied to the wider target

group or the population as a whole.

  • Quantitative estimates can be made for the size and distribution of impacts.


  • With the exception of CWIQ, results are often not available for a long period of


  • The processing and analysis of data can be a major bottleneck for the larger surveys

even where computers are available.

  • LSMS and household surveys are expensive and time-consuming.
  • Many kinds of information are difficult to obtain through formal interviews.

Ranges from roughly $30–60 per household for the CWIQ to $170 per household for the LSMS. Costs will be significantly higher if there is no master sampling frame for the country.
Sound technical and analytical skills for sample and questionnaire design, data analysis, and processing.